Galapagos Gecko Visits CNC

Tiny traveler found in resident’s backpack

ROSWELL, Ga. – What flies halfway around the world in a backpack just to visit the Chattahoochee Nature Center? If you answered a leaf-footed gecko from the Galapagos Islands, you are correct!

One such tiny traveler came to CNC’s Wildlife Department October 23.

According to Kathryn Dudeck, Wildlife Director at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Wildlife Department staff were contacted by a local family who had just returned from the Ecuadorean locale. 

“This family opened up a backpack a week later and he crawled out,” said Dudeck.

Dudeck said the gecko was an adolescent and likes to eat insects. Adults will eat other reptiles and small mammals. This one was only a couple inches long, but adults can get four inches long.

The Galapagos Islands are off the coast of Ecuador, South America. They are known for their biodiversity. Famous naturalist Charles Darwin stopped over there on his world tour.

Dudeck and her staff figured out the genus and then checked the gecko out make sure it was healthy. They then contacted state and federal authorities to determine what to do with the tiny traveler. Biologists from US Fish and Wildlife Service verified that it was not a threatened or endangered animal, so it would not be returned home, but could find a new home in Georgia. The Atlanta-based Amphibian Foundation, which specializes in exotic an endangered amphibians and reptiles, accepted the gecko.

The gecko was sent on its way October 25.